Maximizing Minimal Development Goals

PARIS – With only one-sixth of the European Financial Stability Facility’s €780 billion ($958 billion) in guarantee commitments, the lives of the world’s poorest people could be significantly improved. While the international community is not ready for such a leap, it is clear that by committing some resources, extreme poverty can be addressed effectively worldwide.

According to the recently published United Nations’ 2012 Millennium Development Report, achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the global agenda set in 2000 to improve the living standards of the world’s poorest by 2015 – will be a challenge, but is within reach. This should not come as a surprise, because the MDGs – which critics have called “Minimal Development Goals”– were deliberately based on global trends in order to make them accessible.

Indeed, despite the global financial crisis, which caused many to doubt whether the world would reach the MDG targets, the goals remain attainable – but only with the right mix of sound policies and additional financial resources. A new study by the OECD Development Center concludes that pro-poor policy reforms are the right approach, and estimates that an additional $120 billion annually would suffice to achieve development targets.

Many of the best and brightest in the development field are busily plotting the post-2015 framework that will replace the current MDG mandate. But efforts to support the world’s poorest must not be put on hold while the international community awaits new marching orders. Long-term success requires that current financing and policy gaps are confronted without delay.